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Bowie The Pioneer

from InsideHook

The Forgettable David Bowie Song That Changed the Music Industry Forever

25 years ago, Bowie debuted “Telling Lies,” the first major downloadable single on the web


David Bowie, live on stage in 1996, close to the time he released the first major label downloadable single
David Bowie in 1996, the year he released a downloadable single online / Mick Hutson, SEAN GLADWELL

“I am the future / I’m tomorrow / I am the end.” — David Bowie, “Telling Lies”

If the music industry was going to undergo a tumultuous shift, it might as well have had David Bowie providing the soundtrack. On September 11th, 1996,  Bowie’s “Telling Lies” became the first ever downloadable single by a major artist, arriving on Bowie’s website in three different formats, released over three weeks (a traditional single was later released in November).

As a song, “Telling Lies” is … well, it’s pretty generic drum ‘n’ bass with some brooding Bowie lyrics (“swear to me in times of war and stress”) and no real hook. It’s dark and maybe reflects the singer’s time spent touring as a co-headliner with Nine Inch Nails earlier that year. As AllMusic noted at the time about Earthling, the album from which “Lies” served as the first single, “The record frequently sounds as if the beats were simply grafted on top of pre-existing songs. Never are the songs broken open by a new form; they are fairly conventional Bowie songs with fancy production.”

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Posted on September 13, 2021 by Editor

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